Review: Nokia Sports Tracker Beta

Having used my sister’s ipod/nike+ for 3 weeks for my practice runs, I have to say that I was quite impressed of Apple’s nifty gadget. It was able to provide distance, pace, and time data simply by pressing the center button or by looking at the screen. It even had the audio announcements that indicate progress after each km, halfway-point, last 500 meters, and upon finishing your workout (“Great job!” or something like that was said by Tiger Woods at the end of one my 5km runs).

Too bad that I had to return it to her yesterday.

This morning I needed to do a practice run in preparation for Sunday’s Autoreview 10k. I was targeting to finish 10k, 2 rounds of my 5km route. Aside from my Nokia phone’s music player to accompany me, I thought it was a good time to test Nokia’s latest software: The Nokia Sports Tracker Beta (which I will call NSTB from hereon) which I was able to download previously from this website and install via Bluetooth to my phone.

So, at about 1km into my run, I selected “Running” from the NSTB app and pressed Start. If you’re able to setup your phone’s GPRS settings, the NSTB will automatically connect to the Internet which I assume was for searching the right map based on the GPS’ reported current location. You can avoid the GPRS data-charges by selecting “Phone” on Settings->Map Material within the NSTB.

I saw the GPS in green which meant that the phone was able to detect the GPS signal. I then played my running-playlist and inserted my phone inside my belt bag. Putting it inside the bag was a gamble since in previous tests of GPS inside my home showed that GPS-detection failed since the phone needed a clear airway for this. Will the GPS still work inside my belt bag?

After one 5km lap I proceeded for another round. I stopped the current workout and started another one. I was glimpsing at the NSTB app from time to time and could see that the distance/time/pace were still running with me. That meant that putting it inside my belt bag wasn’t an issue after all! I saw the time and calculated that if I try to finish the 2nd lap I’ll be late for work. So I cut short my 2nd lap and proceeded home. Total distance for two laps was approximately 9kms which I thought was a good practice run for Sunday.

Looking at the NSTB Training Diary, I was able to see a complete summary of my workout: Start Time, Duration, Distance, Avg pace (min/km), Max pace (min/km), number of steps, and calories burned. Pressing my phone's nav-key downward would reveal other stats such as speed vs time, speed vs distance, altitude vs distance, and the map route of my run. The latter looked very confusing since the map was not that detailed and phone-screen limitations made it difficult. All the stats and the map became clear when I uploaded the workouts to the NSTB website.

You need to sign-up on the NSTB website in order to upload the workouts. It’s very easy to sign-up and it’s free.

Below are screenshots of the NSTB website Dashboard after I’ve uploaded this morning’s workout:

Above is the upper-half of the Dashboard page. Ang galing ano? The first thing that caught my eye was the map. Nokia worked with Google Maps on this one so it was very detailed. Note that I didn't plot my route on the phone or on the website but the route that I went to this morning was shown accurately. This clearly proves that the GPS works ---even inside my belt bag. The map showed the Fast and Slow flags indicating where the NSTB recorded my fastest and slowest pace. It also showed the High and Low flags indicating the highest and lowest altitudes of my run. There is also the musical-note flags indicating where the songs in my playlist started. The details are displayed when you click on the flags.

At the right is a graph displaying Speed, Altitude, and Heart Beat stats. The latter can only be displayed if you bought the Nokia N79 that comes with a Polar heart-rate monitor. Hmmm, I wonder if the Polar monitor can be sold separately?

Above the map and the graph is a summary-header of the workout indicating type of workout (in this case, Running), Distance, Total Duration, Avg. Speed, Max Speed, Ave Pace, Step Count, and Calories burned. It also shows the number of other users who've viewed your workout (assuming that you've shared to the public your profile).

Above, the lower-part of the Dashboard shows the songs played during the workout and Lap information. Again, I didn't key this in manually. It was all the NSTB sending the info to the website. Disregard the laps recorded on my workout above since I was playing around with it after the run.

Other neat features I saw on the website was that the community of users who allow public views can be seen in the interactive map DURING their workout. That is, you could see them running their routes REAL TIME with all the stats/info as mentioned earlier.

In summary, I was skeptical at first of the NSTB since my earlier GPS tests with my Nokia phone at home were unsatisfactory. However, using the NSTB app during my practice run was excellent since it was able to record everything accurately. With the NSTB website, the stats/maps and other information are seen better for the (addicted) runner to see.

The NSTB is a great alternative to those who don't have the luxury of buying ipods/nike+ or polar/garmin(?) watches. All you need is a GPS-compatible phone and access to the internet. I only wished that the NSTB developers would include audio announcements similar to Nike+ so that I avoid having to pull-out the phone from my belt bag from time to time which causes me not to focus on the road ahead.

For the cost-conscious, you could be seeing your phone's GPRS-charges increase once you start using the NSTB app since once in a while you need to connect to the Internet to upload your workouts to the NSTB website or whenever there is a software update.

I think for Sunday's Autoreview 10k, I'll put the NSTB to the real test.

(Btw, if you found this article interesting/helpful, hope you can click on an ad below. Thanks!)


Jinoe said...

Wow this is cool. Thanks for sharing. I'd link this to takbo.ph if you don't mind.

mhel said...

hi fellow runner,

Thanks for sharing.

By the way the Polar heartrate wearlink can be bought separately. You can buy it locally here at Toby's. Its around Php3k



daytripper said...

Jinoe, yes no problem!

Mhel, talaga? Wow sige I'll check Toby's later. :)

liezlyraz said...

I am also using NSTB and it is really cool and excellent!